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Dozens take part in regional pitch contests qualifiers

Eight moved on to NEW Launch Alliance competition

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December 2, 2022

NORTHEAST WISCONSIN – What do a CBD-infused coffee and tea provider, a minority-owned small business that offers culture presentations and a farm-direct marketplace that allows consumers to see the story behind what they buy, have in common?

They all took home the top prizes at regional pitch contest qualifier events throughout Northeast Wisconsin during startup week, Nov. 14-18.

In all, 34 area entrepreneurs pitched their startup ideas at Shark Tank-style events – Audible, Fast Pitch, LevelUp and Accelerate Sheboygan County – all vying for broader investor attention and prize money.

“We were excited by the wide range of creative business ideas shown at these local pitch events,” Barb LaMue, president and CEO of New North, said. “It demonstrates the vibrancy of the entrepreneurial community across the New North region.”

In its third year, LaMue said the pitch contests – which are supported by the NEW Launch Alliance of New North Inc., along with Wisconsin Business Development Inc. – are a great way to get the community involved, while at the same time giving budding entrepreneurs a leg up.

“New North believes a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem is vital to the success of our regional economy,” she said.

The nuts and bolts
The contestants each had just minutes to convince a panel of judges of the value of their business idea – being evaluated on six criteria:
The problem they are addressing and the market for their solution.Their unique value proposition.Their growth strategy.Their team.The economic feasibility.The quality of the presentation.
After each pitch, judges had two minutes to ask questions of the presenters.

Each event crowned a first-place winner that received $1,000 cash, as well as a second-place finisher that received $500.

Audible Pitch Event (Brown County)
The first-place winner for Green Bay’s Audible event was Starr Merrie-Native Gifts – a minority-owned small business offering culture presentations for institutions seeking diversity programming for its students, staff and/or patrons.

Presenter Eliza Skenandore said she participated in the event after receiving encouragement from her entrepreneurship instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College.

“He said they were a great experience, and the prizes are usually pretty good,” she said. “This is what we need to help the business grow.”

Skenandore said in January 2023, Starr Merrie-Native Gifts plans to start offering e-commerce on its website.

“I was thinking (the pitch contest prize money) could help pay for our web hosting fees for the year and for some other needs we have with the relaunch coming up soon,” she said. “It was so exciting to win and not have to worry about some of the startup costs that come when launching a website.”

Second place went to Cody Kirchman for his business – Rebook Travels.

Kirchman said Rebook offers a convenient service for individuals and/or businesses to secure a travel itinerary at the lowest cost, saving time and money.

Travel itineraries can be entered into the Rebook system with just a few clicks and if the exact same reservation for flight, hotel or rental car drops to a lower cost, the system then notifies the traveler, allowing them to rebook using the platform.

“It was a fantastic turnout, both online and in person,” Ron Franklin, Startup Hub manager for the Greater Green Bay Chamber, said. “Online we had more than 200 views, including international viewers from three countries.”

LevelUp Pitch Event (Manitowoc County)
Seven local entrepreneurs participated in Progress Lakeshore’s Level Up Pitch Contest held at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc Nov. 17.

The first-place prize went to The Honest Cannabis Company – a CBD-infused coffee and tea online subscription provider.

Presenter Joshua Dudley said the company – which sources its coffee from 48 individual regions around the world featuring four different regions each month – hopes to enhance the routines of its customers by combining the focusing effects of caffeine and the calming effects of CBD products.

Dudley said the Honest Cannabis Company is currently building the infrastructure to begin selling its product commercially.
The second-place title went to Nolan Hetz for his GlobaLASEReach pitch.

Hertz said his company’s laser therapy to treat severe pelvic and bladder pain in women will be undergoing clinical trials soon.

Accelerate Sheboygan County AccelSC Pitch Event (Sheboygan County)
Nature Packaged – a farm-direct marketplace that allows consumers to see the story behind what they buy, avoid overpayment and eliminate the middle person – took home the top prize.

Daniel TenNapel said Nature Packaged connects farms with customers, giving end-consumers the ability to see the actual farm and the positive impact their purchase has on sustainable wages.

Second place was awarded to Tyler Rezachek for his pitch for AntiMussel, a pre-seed, prototype stage company, dedicated to removing invasive mussel species from public and private waterways and converting them into the world’s only source of renewable calcium carbonate for use in paper, paint, pharmaceuticals and plastics.

Fast Pitch Event (Outagamie, Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties)?
Hang 10 Poké – a restaurant offering a variety of fresh poké bowls that cater to different tastes and provide a fresh alternative to fast-food and grab-and-go options – walked away the winner at the Fast Pitch event.

// first-place winner for Green Bay’s Audible event was Starr Merrie-Native Gifts. Submitted Photo

Presenter Kean O’Brien said the restaurant got its start in a food-incubator kitchen and at a local farmers’ market – recently moving to a new location and expanding its menu.

“The judges loved our idea and presentation, and we couldn’t believe we took first,” O’Brien said of the event.

Second place went to E-PT Solutions, which aims to revolutionize how remote services are rendered with physical and occupational therapy clinics.

Presenter Fue Moua said E-PT Solutions looks to provide a two-fold solution to the business/practice and its patients. 

Moua said the company features technology for therapy businesses to expand their remote services, while it offers simplified patient scheduling and a comprehensive telehealth option from the convenience of a smart device.

The NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event
These eight individuals advanced to The NEW Launch Alliance Pitch Event Dec. 1, at TitletownTech – all vying for even more investor attention, along with prize money of $2,000 for first place, $1,000 for second and $500 for third.

The top winners are invited to give an update to an even wider investor/business audience during the New North Summit, scheduled for June 8, 2023, at Lambeau Field.

For more on those who took the top spots at the alliance event, check out

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